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Gardrails: The Worst Night(s) of Your Life 1983-1984

March 7th, 2009 7 comments

Gardrails picture

Easily my favorite house party band of all time; if you can imagine the early Germs mixed with King Uszniewicz and his Uszniewicztones you’ll have an approximation of Lawrence, Kansas’ amazing Gardrails. To set the stage here, let me just quote from their “official” bio:

What began in the winter of 1982-83 as a demented nightmare quickly festered into a cancerous reality by the next spring — feeding almost entirely on other group’s songs, distorting them well past the line of sanity and leaving the bloated and unwieldy remains to be devoured and kicked to the ground by the ever increasing gang of criminals and thugs who refer to themselves as Gardrail fans.

Gardrails review

Members Tomy Splash/ Tommy Nepsted (verbal abuse and convulsions), Hutch Trash/ Kurt Mangold (guitar noise and howls), Frank Off/ Frank Morris (bass and angry shouting), and Bobby Fizz/ Rob Fitzgerald (drum, tin cans and old wine bottles) unleashed a drunken barrage of noise and fun that was the perfect soundtrack to a night shared among Rock & Roll loving friends. Mixing what one flyer described as “Warped 50’s Noisecore” with a dusting of Punk/Hardcore around the edges, the end result was a guaranteed good time-slash-headache.

Not since the Lindbergh kidnapping has there been such public shock and outrage. Gardrails defile everything that good, decent Americans hold near & dear. They are a menace that must be dealt with, or life as we know it will soon fall to decay, eaten away by this insipid and insolent NOISE.

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They didn’t last long really (how could they?), and aide from the occasional reunion everyone eventually drifted into other projects (Brompton’s Cocktail, National Public Radio), thus allowing the Gardrails to remain fixed as a perfect moment in time. As Yoko Ono said in describing the ongoing appeal of the Beatles: “The story of the Golden Temple: A guy fell in love with it and burned it down. He couldn’t stand the idea of it falling apart as it got older, and now the Golden Temple exists in perfect form forever. It became a myth.”

Stop them now, before they invade YOUR home, drink YOUR liquor, and turn YOUR children against YOU and the rest of society. And then they will start to play.

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I truly wish I had 20 more recordings to share here (their repertoire expanded well beyond these boundaries — certainly no finer version of “Blister in the Sun” was ever performed by anyone), but the links below should at least provide a glimpse into a better world than you might’ve ever imagined possible.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Gardrails.


1983: Live At The Loft in Lawrence, KS 11-19-83 (192 kbps)

01 Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly) (1:54)
02 Should I Stay Or Should I Go? (The Clash) (2:31)
03 Wescoe Beach (0:52)
04 Pipeline/Wipeout (The Chantays/The Surfaris) (4:17)
05 Tommy Splash On Guitar Blues (2:43)
06 Gardrails KJHK Station ID (1:05)
07 Stray Cat Strut (Stray Cats) (2:35)
08 Louie Louie (Richard Berry) (1:50)
09 Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Rolling Stones) (2:41)
10 President Reagan (1:25)
11 Voodoo Hippie (2:39)
12 Red Hightops (2:38)
13 Who Do You Love? (Bo Diddley) (2:10)


1984: Live At The Lawrence Opera House in Lawrence, KS 04-21-84 (Underground Music Festival) (192 kbps)

01 For Your Love (Yardbirds) (2:56)
02 Wescoe Beach (1:53)
03 C’mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran) (1:30)
04 Red Hightops (1:25)
05 Route 66 (Chuck Berry) (3:01)
06 Wild Thing (Troggs) (1:49)
07 Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Rolling Stones) (1:15)
08 Voodoo Hippie (3:59)
09 Stray Cat Strut (Stray Cats) (1:42)


1984: Unknown House Party in Lawrence, KS 00-00-84 (192 kbps)

01 C’mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran) (2:03)
02 Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly) (1:56)
03 Voodoo Hippie (3:50)
04 Good Lovin’ (The Rascals) (1:34)
05 Wild Thing (Troggs) (2:19)
06 Untitled (0:22)
07 Pipeline/Wipeout (The Chantays/The Surfaris) (3:07)
08 Should I Stay Or Should I Go? (The Clash) (2:17)
09 Wescoe Beach (1:38)
10 Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Rolling Stones) (1:49)
11 Fever (Otis Blackwell) (3:45)
12 Red Hightops (Incomplete) (0:09)



Descendents: Live At The Foolkiller in KC, MO 08-26-85

March 3rd, 2009 6 comments

The three years after Milo Goes to College was released seemed like an eternity in my life, so in 1985 it was hard to believe that the Descendents had actually gotten back together and that I was going to see them. Unable to find anyone else driving up from Lawrence to catch the show (it was a Monday night, most everyone I knew was 16 and car-less, etc), I somehow managed to cajole my friend Andre into coming down from KC to both pick me up and take me back home that night. It was worth it.

This was the Milo Aukerman, Bill Stevenson, Ray Cooper and Doug Carrion lineup (listen for Doug doing his “Scoobies” right before the band plays a larval version of “Enjoy”) and though it was their first tour they were obviously already “road tight”. While seen from the vantage of 2009 there are a couple of surprises here and there (“Mr. Bass”, “Shattered Milo”, the screamy vocals on “Enjoy”) mostly the set was about what you’d expect it to be: a killer display comprised of favorites off of the “Fat” E.P., Milo Goes to College and the just-released I Don’t Want To Grow Up album.

That said, despite the high energy level of the night (the Micronotz set included — check it out here) the crowd was really pretty reserved throughout. In fact aside from a couple dudes who slammed their way through “Kabuki Girl” and a few other songs, Andre and I were the only people anywhere near the stage for a good 95% of the Descendents’ set (which is why Milo thrust the mic our way during “Hope” and you can hear Andre warbling “You’ll be the only onnnne”). Weird huh? It’s kind of hard for me to reconcile this with my memories of the next three or four times I would see them in Lawrence at the Outhouse (always super-packed shows), but in 1985 the speed of Punk Rock was moving pretty fast — maybe people just needed to be reminded.

In fact for added and somewhat embarrassing context, here’s the review I printed in my fanzine “Room 101”:

Descendents show review from Room 101 #8
Click to enlarge

Still, what a cool night. The bands were great, the ride there and back was a blast, and the songs were fantastic. I played this tape all Fall and Winter long, and though I almost feel foolish admitting how much these tunes (and others) helped get me through my teens, the truth is that they did. At 16 I was a little punk kid in search of some pop-smarts and lusty-but-achingly-heart-on-sleeve lyrics; clearly no one in 1985 could have delivered better on that than the Descendents. Thanks guys!

Descendents: Live At The Foolkiller in KC, MO 08-26-85 Set List
Set List: Click To Enlarge
(Note: though listed here, they actually never played “Rock Star”,“I Wanna Be A Bear” or “I’m Not a Loser”.)


Descendents: Live At The Foolkiller in KC, MO 08-26-85 (192 kbps)
01 Theme (1:18)
02 Descendents (1:39)
03 I Don’t Wanna Grow Up (1:24)
04 Kabuki Girl (1:12)
05 GCF (2:00)
06 Pervert (1:48)
07 My Dad Sucks (1:19)
08 Weinerschnitzel (0:12)
09 Mr Bass (2:16)
10 Silly Girl (2:17)
11 Christmas Vacation (2:39)
12 Hope (2:27)
13 Bikeage (2:07)
14 Wendy (Beach Boys) (2:04)
15 Myage (2:22)
16 Marriage (1:45)
17 Suburban Home (1:51)
18 I’m Not A Punk (3:52)
19 Enjoy (1:38)
20 Shattered Milo (3:00)
21 Catalina (4:42)


Oh and hey! At the end of the show be sure to listen as Keith Patterson reads the lineup of gigs set to go down over the next week in KC:

Touring: Die Kruezen, The Offenders, Killdozer, Sonic Youth, Flaming Lips.

Locals: Orange Doe-Nuts, Slabs, Lard & Vegex.

We really had it pretty fucking good.